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Community members experience firefighting for a day

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – For those wondering what it takes to be a firefighter, the Anchorage Fire Department and the Anchorage Firefighters Union have brought in people from the community to take the same tests than the brave men and women who fight the flames every day.

Fire ops 101 is a program that invites community members to experience what it’s like to be a firefighter for a day. According to Jason Dolph, the AFD’s senior captain, he says the general population is the one who makes decisions about public safety by voting on ballots or at assembly meetings. So, in order for them to make informed decisions, it is essential that they see what is happening behind the scenes. As Nick Glorioso, president of the Firefighters Association says, there’s more to it than just putting out the flames. Firefighting, he explains, is manual and technical work.

“The Anchorage Fire Department is an all-hazards fire department and there are a lot of different things that we do that a lot of people in the community don’t really know about, so we’re using this as an opportunity to show them walk a mile in our place,” Glorioso said.

To walk a mile in their shoes, participants were paired with professional firefighters and performed tasks such as rescuing a victim from a burning building, testing their fear of heights by climbing an aerial ladder to reach fires in the skyscrapers and use the Jaws of Life to save someone from a car accident.

Even Mayor Dave Bronson was on hand to better appreciate the demands and rigors of emergency operations.

“Men and women who bravely stood up and lifted heavy objects. We have just finished crawling through a tunnel simulating a collapsed building rescue and are about to go fight a fire inside. It’s very laborious to carry a lot of heavy equipment and oxygen packs. You better be young and fit to do this job, that’s what I learned,” Bronson said.

There were 70 firefighters in attendance, all of whom volunteered their time to help educate the community.